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UK detains Russian-owned superyacht in London’s Canary Wharf

The arrested Russian-owned superyacht Phi can be seen in the West Indies and Millwall Docks in London
The Russian owned superyacht Phi is seen at West Indies and Millwall Docks in London, Britain on March 29, 2022. REUTERS/Tom Nicholson

March 29, 2022

By Kylie MacLellan and Alistair Smout

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has detained a $50million Russian-owned superyacht hours before it was due to leave London, where it was docked for a superyacht prices meeting, and said the move was part of its sanctions package to punish Moscow.

The 58.5-metre Dutch-built yacht, named Phi, has been detained in London’s financial district of Canary Wharf under the government’s Russian sanctions, the first time the detention rules have been applied.

The government said Phi was owned by a Russian businessman, whom it did not name, but that ownership had been “deliberately” hidden from the company registering the ship in St Kitts and Nevis and the ship, the Maltese carries flags.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the ship’s owner had not been sanctioned in Britain but under the law a ship owned, controlled, chartered or operated by people with links to Russia could be arrested.

The yacht, which features a freshwater pool and a so-called ‘infinite wine cellar’, was built by shipbuilder Royal Huisman.

“Today we arrested a £38million superyacht, turning an icon of Russia’s power and wealth into a clear and unequivocal warning to Putin and his cronies,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in a statement.

“The detention of the Phi proves once again that we can and will take the toughest measures against those who seek to profit from Russian connections.”

Britain, along with international allies, has launched waves of sanctions against institutions, corporations and wealthy elites in a bid to cripple Russia’s economy and punish those linked to the Kremlin for invading Ukraine.

Phi was first identified as possibly Russian-owned Phi on March 13, the government said, and a subsequent investigation by the NCA led to his detention.

“Today’s activity demonstrates the NCA’s ability to respond quickly,” said Andy Devine of the NCA.

The government said it is also examining a number of other ships.

($1 = 0.7651 pounds)

(Additional reporting by William James; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

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Bobby Allyn

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